Retailers preparing for online boost during holiday season

Almost half (49%) of shoppers expect to shop online during this year’s holiday season, according to new research published by Capgemini.

In anticipation of this shift to online, driven by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, 93% of retailers have taken steps to improve their digital shopping capacity. Half (50%) of those surveyed have enhanced their website or eCommerce proposition, 34% have increased their web traffic capacity, and more than a fifth (21%) have introduced new virtual shopping experiences.

Encouragingly, despite continuing social distancing restrictions, 46% of retailers expect sales to grow during this year’s holiday season, although it should be noted the research was carried out before new national lockdowns were introduced in the UK and France.

The survey of 851 retail managers across the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Scandanavia, and of 6,588 consumers in the same regions, also indicated that in-store shopping on Black Friday will fall from 39% in 2019 to 28% this year.

Younger shoppers are expected to be the biggest spenders during this time. Over a third (37%) of 18-24-year olds and 40% of 25-34-year-olds said they have saved money since the start of Covid-19 with the intention of spending it during Black Friday and the Christmas sales period.

“The holiday season has always been hard for retailers to predict, but supply chain disruption, consumer caution and changing government restrictions means this year is full of uncertainty,” commented Tim Bridges, global head of consumer goods and retail at Capgemini.

“Despite this, retailers recognise that sales will shift online and have invested in their ecommerce offerings, with many businesses increasing payment options, opening up new delivery methods or bringing the in-store experience online through initiatives like virtual dressing rooms. With the ongoing nature of the pandemic, the uncertainty we’re witnessing today is likely to continue into next year. The real winners will be those that can digitally streamline their operations and supply chains, so that they can easily scale up and down to meet sudden surges and decreases in consumer spending.”